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Please hack my blood test results: high potassium and high cholesterol

by (15400)
Updated about 19 hours ago
Created March 11, 2013 at 7:14 PM

My doctor and I had a disagreement (again). But that's okay. I kind of trust Paleohackers more. I will put a bounty on this question, I just don't know how. I think I have to wait before awarding best answer or something like that.

Anyway, I got my blood work back. Everything is beautiful. In fact, he told me he did not see bloodwork like this in a long time so Paleo diet works, people!!! Oh and my liver is like perfect.

However, there are two things we disagree about:

  1. My cholesterol is high. He is worried about it, I am not. I told him that because my triglycerides are so low, I have nothing to worry about. He told me it is an alarm bell.

Here are the numbers if you are interested:

My reading................./Norm

LDL 6.22.................3.80

HDL 2.9 .................1.1 - 2.3

Total 9.40 ................ 5.20

Triglycerides 0.58 ...........1.70

  1. My potassium is really high. He thinks it is a mistake because (according to him) if it was that high I would not be able to walk around and would be in the hospital by now. I think it is not a mistake - I am very fatigued.

So, I will do whatever he wants me for my cholesterol, but I want something to be done about my high potassium levels (and he does not think I should do anything).

ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HOW TO LOWER YOUR POTASSIUM LEVELS?

I have checked out more than 20 different websites and they ALL say completely the opposite (as usual).

THANKS IN ADVANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Diet:

meat (grass-fed beef)

fish (salmon)

clams

cheese (I gave it up two days ago)

pecans (I gave those up after the blood test)

egg yolks (I gave those up too)

cucumbers

beets

celery


For those who are reading this - the reason why my cholesterol was so high because I ate tons of egg yolks. I don't even want to tell you the number - you will get scared. So I am not worried because I felt good after eating them. As for my potassium being low, it stems from (I think) dehydration and diet related issues I went through many years ago, long before I started Paleo. I never felt the same since. My overall good blood test results is a proof that Paleo diet is good for you.

Medium avatar
39841 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Oh, I see the confusion...I didn't mean eating more food, I meant more salt.

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15400 · March 13, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Thanks, Travis! I used to have a normal cholesterol till I went on all-meat diet. I had to because of SIBO, everything else made me sick.

Medium avatar
39841 · March 12, 2013 at 5:04 PM

I'm fairly certain you can correct both without too much trouble. The potassium could be corrected in days with Morton's salt that you put on everything but the cholesterol will take a few months. No big deal on either, in my opinion.

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1655 · March 12, 2013 at 3:31 PM

@John Well, you need calories from somewhere. In VLC very little comes from carbs. Protein is not going to help you much (google "rabbit starvation") so the majority of calories will have to come from fat. PUFAs are not that great, and if you want to avoid SFAs, only MUFAs are left. I guess it's theoretically possible but I haven't heard of anyone getting most of his calories from olive oil...

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 11:01 AM

I can fix the cholesterol problem. Not sure if I can fix the potassium problem as easy.

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Considering the fact that I was on antibiotics for 1 month, had leaky gut, SIBO, fatigue and a whole array of problems my blood work was beautiful. I thought I would be deficient in everything with screwed-up thyroids and all. I was also afraid I had liver damage. This has not happened so I am very thankful.

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Thanks! I will do! I had to go through it due to SIBO. I am still having a very tough time tolerating carbs. You are right, but there is nothing else I could do at that time. I will try to incorporate more carbs with time. I am working on it. I am not worried about my high cholesterol because I know I am not going to stay on meat-only diet for a long time.

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300 · March 12, 2013 at 10:20 AM

"As long as you're eating VLC you can't really avoid a lot of SFA." Why is that? Surely it is possible to cut way, way down on added fat, substitute MUFA such as olive oil for SFA, and eat more chicken and fish.

Medium avatar
39841 · March 12, 2013 at 5:34 AM

Just use normal supermarket salt

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:51 AM

I use salt that is potassium heavy. I will try to get a different kind, potassium free.

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:41 AM

Salt I use is potassium heavy. Maybe I should get a different kind. I will try to have more salt. No wonder I was craving cheese all the time!

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:40 AM

Okay, I will try salting everything but I will try some potassium-free salt.

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:39 AM

I get palpitations once in a while and get light-headed after meals.

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:39 AM

I use some French sea salt - I really like it. I have tried eating less salt and then I get cramps and twitches. Do you think I need to eat MORE salt? I never thought about it. I looked on the package - it is quite heavy on potassium. Maybe I should look up some regular potassium-free salt?

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:36 AM

Yes, all thyroid including T3 and T4, there are so many of them and all abbreviated - not sure about cortisol and adrenaline. All of them are within normal range, actually, very good.

Medium avatar
39841 · March 12, 2013 at 3:43 AM

I'd first try salting the hell out of everything. If that failed, I'd try to see if a low-potassium starch like rice has any effect. Do you have any muscle cramps/twitches or arrhythmias?

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1655 · March 12, 2013 at 3:39 AM

Um. Salt is NaCl -- it contains *sodium* which you need to balance your excessive potassium. So you actually want to eat more salt.

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12702 · March 12, 2013 at 3:38 AM

What other tests were run? Cortisol or adrenaline? Thyroid hormone?

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 2:58 AM

I am not worried about my cholesterol one bit. But I do worry about my potassium levels. I will try to drink more and eat less salt. I will also try to avoid foods high in potassium and remove potassium from other foods I eat. Not sure what else I can do. Remove salt? Thanks for answering.

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1655 · March 12, 2013 at 2:34 AM

You don't know that it's a problem until you re-test and make sure it's not a fluke. If you're actually hyperkalemic there will likely be more tests to run. Re cholesterol, it's probably because of saturated fat. As long as you're eating VLC you can't really avoid a lot of SFA. It's worth trying to experiment to see whether maybe dairy or eggs spike the cholesterol by themselves, but if it's just SFAs you'll have to choose between eating VLC and eating to lower your cholesterol. Or surrender to statins.

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 2:30 AM

And I do think my Na/K balance is out of whack.

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 2:29 AM

How to get my Na/K in balance? I was very dehydrated at one point.

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 2:23 AM

Thanks for answering. No, I don't have familial hypercholesterolemia. Yes, I was eating tons of eggs. I stopped eating them though. I am very worried about hyperkalemia because my blood-pressure is very low. It is around 100/60 before meals and after meals it goes down to 90/50 (in less than 15 minutes). I think you nailed it. I eat a lot, I just eat a lot of protein because it makes me feel better and try not too eat too many vegetables, because I get fatigued after that. QUESTION FOR YOU: What should I do now? Can you recommend anything?

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15400 · March 12, 2013 at 2:19 AM

Yes, I do eat VLC. Anything to make my kidneys work better?

Medium avatar
39841 · March 11, 2013 at 8:05 PM

Post your diet, please.

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15400 · March 11, 2013 at 7:40 PM

LOL. I cannot have any bananas - I had SIBO and I it might come back if I have too many.

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3 Answers

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39841 · March 11, 2013 at 8:33 PM

First off, your total cholesterol of 363 was about where mine was (393) after eating tons of butter and cream. For whatever genetic reason, that particular ratio of myristic, lauric and palmitic acids spikes my cholesterol to the moon. When I cut it out, it went down into the low 200s.

Assuming that you didn't omit a ton of butter/cream consumption and assuming this result is much higher than another recent test (meaning you don't have actual familial hypercholesterolemia), the greatest likelihood is that you are a dietary cholesterol hyperresponder. It would likely take quite a few eggs to produce that result...how many were you eating?

There's no way that pecans would have anything other than a lowering effect on cholesterol, btw.

Oh, and regarding the hyperkalemia/fatigue, it sounds a bit like low-sodium induced hypotension. What was your blood pressure? How much salt do you eat? Have you tried eating more?

Medium avatar
39841 · March 12, 2013 at 5:34 AM

Just use normal supermarket salt

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 2:23 AM

Thanks for answering. No, I don't have familial hypercholesterolemia. Yes, I was eating tons of eggs. I stopped eating them though. I am very worried about hyperkalemia because my blood-pressure is very low. It is around 100/60 before meals and after meals it goes down to 90/50 (in less than 15 minutes). I think you nailed it. I eat a lot, I just eat a lot of protein because it makes me feel better and try not too eat too many vegetables, because I get fatigued after that. QUESTION FOR YOU: What should I do now? Can you recommend anything?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:39 AM

I get palpitations once in a while and get light-headed after meals.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:39 AM

I use some French sea salt - I really like it. I have tried eating less salt and then I get cramps and twitches. Do you think I need to eat MORE salt? I never thought about it. I looked on the package - it is quite heavy on potassium. Maybe I should look up some regular potassium-free salt?

Medium avatar
39841 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Oh, I see the confusion...I didn't mean eating more food, I meant more salt.

Medium avatar
39841 · March 12, 2013 at 3:43 AM

I'd first try salting the hell out of everything. If that failed, I'd try to see if a low-potassium starch like rice has any effect. Do you have any muscle cramps/twitches or arrhythmias?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:40 AM

Okay, I will try salting everything but I will try some potassium-free salt.

Ea1bb0c24b59345463ef96880b6b27fc
2
300 · March 12, 2013 at 10:27 AM

I am going to focus on the cholesterol part of your question. You say that:

"My cholesterol is high. He is worried about it, I am not. I told him that because my triglycerides are so low, I have nothing to worry about. He told me it is an alarm bell."

Unfortunately you are wrong here and your doctor is right. Low triglycerides are not a "get out of jail free card" for having very high LDL (in your case 242). The truth is that nobody yet knows what the meaning of very high LDL is for people on paleo/low carb diets and until the time that is settled (no where and sight), prudence would dictate that you take the "alarm bell" concept seriously, especially since LDL can continue to increase into the stratosphere as others here have reported.

As far as what to do, see my comment above on dietary changes and add to that the possibility of increasing your carb levels since research shows that low carb is sometimes interpreted by the body as starvation and a signal to ramp up LDL.

You must realize that you are on a very extreme diet with "tons of egg yolks", etc etc. The fact that you feel "good" is not necessarily confirmation that all is well as people are capable of feeling good with lots of conditions (high blood pressure comes to mind). I am not sure why you are even going to a doctor since you are disagreeing with his advice whatever it is. Having otherwise normal bloodwork is pretty meaningless since its not at all uncommon (not sure about the "beautiful" notion).

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Considering the fact that I was on antibiotics for 1 month, had leaky gut, SIBO, fatigue and a whole array of problems my blood work was beautiful. I thought I would be deficient in everything with screwed-up thyroids and all. I was also afraid I had liver damage. This has not happened so I am very thankful.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 11:01 AM

I can fix the cholesterol problem. Not sure if I can fix the potassium problem as easy.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Thanks! I will do! I had to go through it due to SIBO. I am still having a very tough time tolerating carbs. You are right, but there is nothing else I could do at that time. I will try to incorporate more carbs with time. I am working on it. I am not worried about my high cholesterol because I know I am not going to stay on meat-only diet for a long time.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 13, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Thanks, Travis! I used to have a normal cholesterol till I went on all-meat diet. I had to because of SIBO, everything else made me sick.

Medium avatar
39841 · March 12, 2013 at 5:04 PM

I'm fairly certain you can correct both without too much trouble. The potassium could be corrected in days with Morton's salt that you put on everything but the cholesterol will take a few months. No big deal on either, in my opinion.

800e726cb5dff569fd8edf604c3e2793
1
1655 · March 11, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Re-test. In the meantime, flush your electrolytes (drink LOTS of water, take diuretics if you must) while supplementing with everything but potassium (mostly sodium, other stuff is less urgent).

...and stop eating fifty bananas a day :-/

UPDATE: Do re-test. If you actually have very high K (but normal Na), your Na/K balance is out of whack and that's most likely because your body's systems (specifically kidneys) made it this way -- NOT a result of imbalance in your food. Your diet looks a bit limited to me, but there doesn't seem to be anything which would force very high levels of potassium. You are eating VLC, right?

Ea1bb0c24b59345463ef96880b6b27fc
300 · March 12, 2013 at 10:20 AM

"As long as you're eating VLC you can't really avoid a lot of SFA." Why is that? Surely it is possible to cut way, way down on added fat, substitute MUFA such as olive oil for SFA, and eat more chicken and fish.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:41 AM

Salt I use is potassium heavy. Maybe I should get a different kind. I will try to have more salt. No wonder I was craving cheese all the time!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 11, 2013 at 7:40 PM

LOL. I cannot have any bananas - I had SIBO and I it might come back if I have too many.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 2:19 AM

Yes, I do eat VLC. Anything to make my kidneys work better?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 4:51 AM

I use salt that is potassium heavy. I will try to get a different kind, potassium free.

800e726cb5dff569fd8edf604c3e2793
1655 · March 12, 2013 at 2:34 AM

You don't know that it's a problem until you re-test and make sure it's not a fluke. If you're actually hyperkalemic there will likely be more tests to run. Re cholesterol, it's probably because of saturated fat. As long as you're eating VLC you can't really avoid a lot of SFA. It's worth trying to experiment to see whether maybe dairy or eggs spike the cholesterol by themselves, but if it's just SFAs you'll have to choose between eating VLC and eating to lower your cholesterol. Or surrender to statins.

800e726cb5dff569fd8edf604c3e2793
1655 · March 12, 2013 at 3:39 AM

Um. Salt is NaCl -- it contains *sodium* which you need to balance your excessive potassium. So you actually want to eat more salt.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 2:30 AM

And I do think my Na/K balance is out of whack.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 2:58 AM

I am not worried about my cholesterol one bit. But I do worry about my potassium levels. I will try to drink more and eat less salt. I will also try to avoid foods high in potassium and remove potassium from other foods I eat. Not sure what else I can do. Remove salt? Thanks for answering.

800e726cb5dff569fd8edf604c3e2793
1655 · March 12, 2013 at 3:31 PM

@John Well, you need calories from somewhere. In VLC very little comes from carbs. Protein is not going to help you much (google "rabbit starvation") so the majority of calories will have to come from fat. PUFAs are not that great, and if you want to avoid SFAs, only MUFAs are left. I guess it's theoretically possible but I haven't heard of anyone getting most of his calories from olive oil...

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · March 12, 2013 at 2:29 AM

How to get my Na/K in balance? I was very dehydrated at one point.

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